Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has made it clear the NRL’s newest franchise will not be making a bid for Titans gun David Fifita.
The barnstorming backrower is set to hit the open market after failing to finalise an extension with the Gold Coast club ahead of the November 1 deadline according to The Daily Telegraph.
Fifita, who is currently representing Tonga at the World Cup, is yet to commit to the Titans long-term after Justin Holbrook previously suggested the 22-year-old would be re-signed prior to November.
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The Titans $3. million-dollar man will reportedly sit down with Gold Coast powerbrokers when he returns from England next month — with a two-year extension set to be tabled.
Fifita’s extension is expected to be at a cut price after a disappointing 2022 campaign and the Test gun is one of the biggest names to hit the open market next month.
Bennett’s Dolphins are yet to secure a marquee player but closed to door on a potential move for Fifita.
“We haven’t gone near David,” Bennett said.
“We have not made any approaches to David, regardless of his contract status.”
Bennett coached Fifita at the Broncos and revealed mid-season he had been in contact with the backrower who was struggling for form.
Fifita reportedly reached out to the super coach for advice, sparking suggestions the Dolphins were in for Gold Coast’s marquee star.
Former Titans football manager Scott Sattler urged the club to re-sign Fifita, despite not living up to his hefty price tag.
“I think Dave is worthy of an extension purely because of how much upside he has in his career,” he said.
“He hasn’t been great for the Titans, but Dave is only young and at an age where he is figuring out how to play the game properly.
“I have been critical of Dave, but I am quite envious of the skill set he has got. He will be one of the most dynamic back-rowers in the game if he can get everything right.
“In a way, even if he takes a pay cut, not being on a $1 million deal can be a good pressure valve. It’s not Dave’s fault, but with that huge money comes responsibility and Fifita simply wasn’t ready for that responsibility at this stage of his career.”
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KNIGHTS FLYER BECOMES HOT PROPERTY
Knights star Dominic Young could have a new club to call home as five teams reportedly chase the English international’s signature.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Newcastle is yet to formally offer Young an extension to remain in the Hunter, with his contract expiring at the end of the 2023 season.
However without a formal offer on the table from the Knights the 21-year-old could be one of the most sought after players come November 1.
Young’s management team has allegedly held in informal meetings with five rival sides.
Out of the five, four of them are based in Sydney.
Prior to Young’s incredible start to England’s Rugby League World Cup campaign, the Knights youngster finished the 2022 season with 14 tries and averaged 134 running metres per game.
DOLPHINS FAIL TO CAPITALISE ON NEW ZEALAND RUGBY STAR
Waikato Chiefs fullback Shaun Stevenson has rejected Wayne Bennett’s offer to head to the Dolphins for the 2023 season and will instead remain in New Zealand.
The 25-year-old confirmed the gaurantee of a starting role with the Chiefs convinced him to turn down the 13-man game.
While Stevenson is adamant that he’ll be playing rugby union in 2023, he did admit that a shift to rugby league could be on the cards later in his career.
The Maori All Black now joins a long list of players that have snubbed the legendary coach as Bennett continues to struggle to build the club’s roster leading into their inaugural season.
“Yeah, I had a call from Wayne,” he told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
“This is arguably the best league coach in this generation.
“It was obviously a bit daunting, but it was cool, just chew the fat, good to have a chat with the GOAT.
“I guess it is an option after 2023.
“My skillset, I feel, would suit it, in a way, and obviously playing touch and tag back in school days, it’s similar to that.
“It’s one of those things that quite a few boys want to give a crack, but they talk about it and never do.
“So never say never.”
ITALY STAR CATCHING THE EYE OF NRL CLUBS
Italy gun Daniel Atkinson’s performances at the World Cup have reportedly caught the eye of both the Sharks and Knights according to WWOS.
The 22-year-old, who played a singular NRL game for the Storm in 2021, is a halfback by trade, but has been playing at left centre for the Azzurri.
Atkinson was released by the Storm following the 2021 season and was standout for the Sunshine Coast Falcons in their 2022 campaign.
A number of clubs are now monitoring his performances in England and are considering offering him a deal to return to the NRL.
Atkinson recorded a staggering 240 running metres, five tackle breaks and two line breaks in Italy’s 28-4 win over Scotland.
MANLY LOCK IN TIGERS FORWARD TO REPLACE VETERAN PROP
The Manly Sea Eagles have reportedly made a notable signing, locking in up-and-coming New Zealand born prop Austin Dias.
According to WWOS’ The Mole24-year-old joins Manly following the release of long-serving front-rower Martin Taupau.
Dias made his NRL debut in 2022 in the midst of one of the club’s worst seasons, with only seven competition games under his belt.
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Manly has been searching for players to fill that gap now that veteran forwards Taupau and Andrew Davey have been released from the Brookvale based side.
The Sea Eagles have had a year to forget with the pride jersey saga and Des Hasler’s dismissal, so the signing of Dias should come as good news to Manly fans.
Dias now joins former teammate Kelma Tuilagi as the club’s only signing for the 2023 season.
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